In the red dust of the Utah desert, six scientists are dressed in home-made spacesuits and living in a large tin can. Their mission: to prove that sending man to Mars is easier than NASA thinks. Charles Laurence joins them in space The familiar landscape of planet Earth – trees, water, buildings, that sort of thing – has long since disappeared from my rear-view mirror, and so far there is not much evidence of life. The Mission Commander told me to follow the track across the stony red desert for about two-and-a-half miles, and keep looking carefully to the left for the “Hab”, or human habitation module. Mars, if this landscape is anything to go by, must be quite a place. The country here almost exactly matches the photographs of the Red Planet brought back by America’s Marina space probe. Narrow, flat-topped canyons known as mesas and shimmering plains stretch as far as the eye can see. Six top-drawer scientists are out here somewhere, living in a large, white tin can that looks like a stumpy grain silo with a conical roof, or a drawing of a spaceship in an old comic book, and dressing in spacesuits made from canvas and sticky tape. Whenever they venture out, they don helmets contrived from rubbish-bins and plastic light-fittings. Behind this odd behaviour lies a serious purpose (or at least an earnest one): to find out what it would be like to live on Mars, and whether humans could stand it.